Good-Time Charlie

04Mar11

I like this bit from the Trivia section of the IMDb entry for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

To produce the desired drugged-out effect for his role as the drug addict in the police station, Charlie Sheen stayed awake for more than 48 hours before the scene was shot.

So how did the words “with the aid of a huge bag of cocaine” fall out of that sentence, anyway?

Indeed, so coked up is Charlie Sheen now that the main difference between his manic riffing and Robin Williams’ is basically just the lack of gay, black, and southern preacher voices. (This is why I don’t think the “Chaim Levine” thing is quite as bad as it’s made out to be, although it certainly is an anti-Semitic slur; just ask any Jew what it means to have one’s so-called real name sneered at oneself. It’s more a combination of Sheen’s personal animosity toward Chuck Lorre where he’s grasping at any weapon at hand and the fact that his brain is in this Robin Williams/Dennis Miller mode where he’s riffing fast and furiously and flitting from one idea to the next and can’t see the need to slow down for a pause or a comma in a sentence when he can insert a quick “by the way” digression. Anyway, the best thing that his next publicist could do is probably to just slap a pair of rainbow suspenders on him and schedule any future public appearances onstage in front of a brick wall.)

Previously, I’d have argued that this was a mainly subconscious process of self-sabotage. Two and a Half Men may be a very competent example of the three-camera sitcom, but it’s hardly great art, and it would be beneath Sheen if they weren’t paying him so much. So he can’t bring himself to walk away from the money, but he can force them to fire him. But now he’s talking about filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit, which, if successful, would allow him to take the money and run. So maybe it’s all part of a master plan. I love his chutzpah in demanding not only that the show be put back on the air but that he be given a raise as well. If they give it to him, he’ll take it. If they refuse, nothing lost. If I may be permitted a conspiracy theory (and surely Charlie would allow me that, since he’s the one going around saying 9/11 was an inside job), I wonder if, since his conduct is making him untouchable to major movie studios, he hasn’t already lined up his big comeback project well in advance. He’s already mentioned that Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have called up to offer their support; it’s not hard to imagine that either already has a juicy, Oscar-caliber film role lined up for a fellow maverick.

In the meantime, can we please get him his own talk radio show? I could listen to him all day. And I’m hardly alone. He’s already set the Guinness World Record for becoming the fastest person to acquire one million followers on Twitter. Like Ron Swanson, he’s got his own pyramid of greatness to adorn the cubicle walls of lesser mortals like us who long to be like him but do not dare (though Vanity Fair‘s “Stark Raving Mad-Libs” make it easy to come up with your own customized Charlie Sheen-eque rant).

Greg Wyshynski of the Puck Daddy podcast (who normally talks hockey, but is now talking about Charlie Sheen like everyone else) had an insight about just why Charlie is so popular: Unlike the typical celebrity meltdown, where you feel appalled and saddened at seeing someone spin out of control (e.g., Britney Spears) or are genuinely offended (e.g., Mel Gibson), Charlie’s current behaviour is more like a professional wrestler turning heel. (You’ve probably seen the Charlie Sheen vs. Gaddhafi “Whose line is it anyway?” quiz, but have you seen the Charlie Sheen vs. The Ultimate Warrior one?) He’s just decided to stop following the rules and unabashedly embrace his inner bad boy, and you can’t help but cheer him on, like when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin gives Vince McMahon a Stunner and then chugs a beer. Except that Charlie’s more likely to snort a line than chug a beer.

“Me and Jed, we’re all used up,” he said as the younger of the doomed Eckert brothers in Red Dawn. That’s certainly true now of Jed (the late Patrick Swayze), and Charlie looks pretty used up now, like a cross between Christian Bale in The Fighter and Corey Feldman. And yet, he’s the only man out there who is truly alive. And he’s living on his own terms, and he’s going to do it forever. Or that’s the impression he gives. If not, who cares? If he dies, he dies happy. Better to burn out than fade away. He doesn’t want our help. He doesn’t need our help. He’s living like a depraved demigod, rich as Pluto, more debauched than Dionysus, hornier than Pan, the kind of guy his own father used to be sent upriver into the jungle to kill. In his own words, he’s winning.



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